Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) have exploded in popularity over the past few years, as the cannabinoid’s reputed anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects have made it into a trendy ingredient for skincare brands and “wellness” products.
As the major non-intoxicating component in cannabis, CBD is fairly abundant in common cannabis strains, making the cannabinoid’s isolation and use easily translatable to commercial product making operations.
But recently another non-intoxicating cannabinoid has been making headlines as a potential therapeutic product. Cannabigerol (CBG) is a less abundant cannabinoid, but it has been observed to reduce inflammation, combat pain, and even slow the proliferation of some cancer cells.
CBG may sound similar to CBD on the surface, but dig a little deeper and key differences can be found.
In the first two installments of this series on the chemistry of cannabis, CBDA Vs CBD: What Are the Differences? and THCA Vs THC: What Are the Differences?, it was explained how all of the cannabinoids present in cannabis are derived from cannabigerolic acid (CBGA).
Conversion of cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), into cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabidiol (CBD) via cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
As the cannabis plant matures, CBGA, which is the acidic form of CBG, is converted by plant enzymes into some ratio of the three major cannabinoid precursors: tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromenic acid (CBCA).
From the amounts of CBGA that are not converted into these precursors, or any of the other minor cannabinoids, CBG is formed through decarboxylation.
Due to this process, cannabis strains ordinarily contain very little CBG, often below 1 percent by weight. In order to obtain higher yields of CBG within cannabis, specialist plant breeders have begun experimenting with genetic manipulation and crossbreeding. Leafly reports that scientists have also successfully pinpointed the optimum extraction window for cannabis in order to preserve the highest amounts of CBG, recommending extraction be done around six weeks into an eight-week flowering cycle.
Unlike CBD, which has a relatively low affinity for cannabinoid receptors and acts mostly through indirect interactions with the endocannabinoid system, CBG is thought to elicit its therapeutic effects directly though interaction with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
The psychoactive cannabinoid THC also produces its psychoactive effects though interactions with these receptors; CBG has been observed to work as a buffer to THC’s psychoactivity and can even alleviate the feelings of paranoia that sometimes come with consumption of high levels of THC.
Research is relatively sparse regarding the therapeutic benefits of CBG, when compared to the apparent wealth of information available on THC and CBD within the cannabis science community. But there are early studies linking the compound to a whole host of potential therapeutic uses, such as: